Pitch for tiny hospital hits snag
Mercyhealth's proposed 13-bed hospital in Crystal Lake, Ill., would potentially strip business from competing facilities that already have plenty of patient beds to spare.
Of seven hospitals within 45 minutes of the proposed tiny hospital, only three have filled at least 70% of their most common type of bed. There are even more vacant beds in their intensive-care units, where utilization rates range from about 3% to 63%. That's according to a new report from the staff of the Illinois Facilities & Services Review Board, which decides the fate of healthcare projects in the state.
"It appears that there will be an unnecessary duplication of service with the establishment of this hospital," the staff report said.
Mercyhealth's proposal also doesn't meet state law requiring that hospitals have at least 100 beds, the report said.
The eight-member board is expected to cast an initial vote on this proposal and others at its June 20 meeting in Bolingbrook, Ill. Board members don't always agree with their staff, whose role is to ensure proposed projects meet state standards.
Rockford, Ill.-based Mercyhealth did not immediately comment.
The five-hospital network is calling its proposal a micro-hospital. The $79.5 million plan (the cost has decreased about 2 percent since the project was first proposed in January) calls for the 13-bed facility along with an adjacent $23.8 million medical office building.
Micro-hospitals have popped up around the country as health systems look to fill in perceived gaps in care, but they have yet to come to Illinois. Mercyhealth's facility would be the first of its kind in the state. These facilities look like typical hospitals, just on a smaller scale. They aim to treat patients who might need to stay overnight, but transfer the sickest patients to bigger hospitals.
In its application to state regulators, Mercyhealth said its micro-hospital would address a lack of hospital care for poor patients in particular, and a growing baby boomer population that goes elsewhere for care. Only 35% of patients in McHenry County stay in the area for treatment, the application said.
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